Voices of Forestry presents analysis and insight from people working all across the forestry sector. In a special column to mark Earth Day (April 22), Stora Enso's Johanna Pirinen explores how timber can solve construction conundrums. 

EARTH Day provides a chance to reflect on why one of our most climate-smart materials is wood – specifically, engineered mass timber. While other bio-sourced materials also exist, timber is growing in forests as we speak with volumes making it feasible for commercial use in construction industry on a global scale.

Mass timber in construction brings with it a vast array of environmentally sustainable benefits. Its lightweight durability means that you can deliver a higher volume to site with a single delivery, saving on emissions across transportation.

Compound this with the benefits of mass timber being prefabricated in factories: a mass timber building kit can be erected in weeks. This means that workers need not be on site for as long as compared to current mainstream construction materials, reducing construction timelines whilst potentially increasing profit margins. Most importantly, prefabricated elements support increased worker safety, as more work is performed in controlled factory conditions versus the project site uncertainties of weather and much else.


Not to mention timber’s inherent sustainability strength. Trees remove CO2 during their growth, with the carbon stored in the wood remaining sequestered within the building's structure for its lifespan. Utilising biogenic materials with this high carbon sequestration capability can turn a building from a source of carbon emissions to something positive – a means of carbon storage. Even more, wood substitutes for high-emission conventional building materials. Thus, wood can be a powerful means of contributing to sustainability and climate mitigation efforts.

Earth Day is focused on raising awareness and fostering action towards environmental protection – a collaborative effort that extends to the forestry practices associated with producing mass timber. With two million hectares of forest land globally, the majority in Sweden and significant holdings in Finland, Estonia, Romania, China, Brazil, and Uruguay, Stora Enso exemplifies commitment to sustainable forestry. 99 per cent of forests owned or managed by Stora Enso are certified, and all the wood used in its sawmills is sustainably and legally sourced by implementing third-party certified chain of custody and due diligence systems, such as PEFC. 

In addition, Stora Enso is committed to a net positive impact on biodiversity within our own forests and plantations by 2050. This holistic approach to environmental, social, and economic sustainability is the basis for sustainable forest management that responsibly cares for and uses forests, enhancing biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, and vitality for the long term.

DISCLAIMER: Our columns are a platform for writers to express their personal opinions. They do not necessarily reflect the views of the writers’ own organisations or Forestry Journal.